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Norway uncovers Russian agents amid sabotage concerns

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The Local ([email protected])
Norway uncovers Russian agents amid sabotage concerns
The exact number of exposed Russian agents remains undisclosed. Pictured is a bridge in western Norway. Photo by Ilyass SEDDOUG on Unsplash

The Norwegian intelligence service, PST, has revealed the presence of multiple Russian agents operating in western Norway.

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Torgils Lutro, head of PST Vest, disclosed in an interview with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) that these agents may have been preparing for acts of sabotage.

NRK noted that potential targets could have included Haakonsvern, northern Europe's largest naval base, as well as crucial oil, gas, and power facilities in the region.

Lutro said that Russian agents were focused on gathering intelligence on critical infrastructure, military installations, and Norwegian preparedness routines.

While the exact number of exposed agents remains undisclosed, the PST has previously warned about the risks posed by Russian espionage and that espionage activity has heightened since Russia invaded Ukraine.

"In Vestland (County), we have strongly suspected, but have also uncovered, hostile and unwanted Russian intelligence activities since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022," Lutro said.

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Russia's motives

The PST Vest chief suggested that Russia aimed to tarnish Norway's reputation among its allies.

"It's evident that one of Russia's objectives is to portray us in a negative light. They seek to demonstrate that we lack control over our own affairs or that we're unable to support our allies during future crises," he said.

Following the war in Ukraine, Norwegian authorities have expelled over 15 people from the Russian embassy in Norway over suspected espionage.

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This has prompted Russia to reassess its intelligence personnel and resources, according to the PST.

"Identifying these agents isn't straightforward. They blend into society, which is part of their job. They may not even hold Russian citizenship, but are motivated by factors like money or threats," Lutro said.

The PST has consistently highlighted Russian intelligence activities as a growing threat to Norway's security in its annual threat assessments, including the most recent one in 2024.

"We've employed various methods to uncover these activities, and in some instances, we have a clear understanding of how they operate," Lutro said.

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